US govt asks Zimbabwe to “return land to white farmers”

Zimbabwean commercial farmer Tommy Bayley rides an old bicycle ahead of war veterans and villagers, who invaded his farm at Danbury Park outside the capital Harare, in this file picture taken April 8, 2000. REUTERS/Howard Burditt/Files

A striking revelation has emerged from the Dirco Symposium meeting on Monday. Officials representing Zimbabwe at the event have reacted to claims that the US government has offered to ease sanctions on the country, if President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the issues surrounding the land reform programme issued in 2000.

The Mugabe-era law ushered in a period of chaos and violence, as white farm owners were forced off their properties as part of ZANU-PF’s attempts to redistribute land in Zimbabwe. The much-maligned legislation cast pariah status upon the country, and marked the start of Zim’s dramatic economic decline.

US ask Zimbabwe to “give back the land” – Zim officials

Mnangagwa hasn’t proved to be much softer than his predecessor, though. Since 2017, the president has twice ordered a military crackdown against his own civilians, and he’s overseen another dramatic inflation in food and petrol prices. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Certainly, Mnangagwa’s hardline stance remains the same on land. The Zimbabwe Ambassador to South Africa told the Dirco event that the US want the land returning to those who owned it at the turn of the century. But according to David Hamadzripi, the president is standing firm on the land grabs – a position EM reiterated on Monday afternoon:

O. Rhee Hetanang@OmRhee

“Land reform is now behind us… we want re-engage for posterity” – President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe @dubaichamber @DcgbForums

Mnangagwa, Dirco react to US sanctions terms

During the GBF 2019 Summit in Dubai, Mnangagwa also implored Zimbabweans based in Africa to “return home and help their country”. He brazenly told the audience that the country is now open for business, citing mining and… agriculture… as their two most profitable industries.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor rallied SADC to lobby for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe by their global partners. Even if the US have laid down their strict terms and conditions, Pandor believes that the time is right to assist Zimbabwe in helping itself:

“It seems clear that even as we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics are inextricably linked to the economy, and thus, should be confronted simultaneously.”

“SADC may need to go beyond the resolution we adopted and engage those who have imposed sanctions to agree on lifting sanctions to support the recovery of sectors such as health, agriculture and education.”

Naledi Pand